A Self-Employed Carpenter’s Thoughts on the Future

This is a guest post by Jim Kearns of Rustic Structures LLC

The world is changing. Currently, as a nation, we have a large and well-trained section of our work force dedicated to residential construction. Unemployment within the construction industry now exceeds 20%. That number takes into account only workers getting unemployment compensation. There are also many self-employed individuals, ineligible for unemployment compensation, who have simply run out of customers and work.

That is the bad news. Now the worse news: Not only are those jobs not coming back, but the construction industry will continue to diminish for the foreseeable future. The real estate glut is not on hold; it is over. Waiting for its return is similar to waiting for next the big surge in typewriters, 35mm cameras, and home phones.

Why are the construction jobs not coming back? There are three main reasons, the first of which is inflation. Decades of credit expansion and the recent printing of money (quantitative easing) have increased the overall volume of our fiat currency: dollars. Therefore, the value of each dollar unit has been reduced, causing prices to rise. This results in increased costs in construction of new homes. Higher new construction costs make staying in and repairing older structures, or renting, more attractive.

The second reason is fuel costs. Living rural and working in urban areas is becoming very expensive. Reasons one and two will keep an increasing number of younger workers and couples living and renting closer to work. Why take the financial and mobility risks associated with homeownership?

The third reason is we are broke. Who are “we”? Western civilization, consisted mainly of the U.S. and Europe. Consider this…there are gold and silver coins and bullion: actual wealth storage vehicles. There are paper dollars: temporary wealth storage vehicles. And there are also trillions of “dollars” represented as pixels on screens in accounting software programs.

When I say that we are broke it is because I don’t believe those pixel dollars represent anything. All of the wealth supposedly held in those pixels does not exist. It is a classic Ponzi scheme. If you go today and convert your pixels to actual dollars, everything is just fine. But if 10% of us go today and try to convert our pixels into dollars, the banks will shut down…Why? Because the money doesn’t exist. There is no actual wealth stored in any of those pixels.

Spain and Portugal may require financial bailouts in 2011. Part of the fallout from the Greek financial crisis last year was the creation of a euro zone bailout fund of $1.01 trillion. That fund could be used to assist Spain and Portugal if necessary. Where did that $1.01 trillion come from? Was it removed from another sector of Europe’s economy? Supplied in gold bullion to EU headquarters in The Hague? Removed from the savings accounts of earnest Europeans?

No, none of those could supply that amount of wealth. It was simply created by banking and government officials in pixel dollars (euros). It has no actual, tangible value, because it was created out of thin air. One trillion dollars set aside after a series of business meetings, and no individual, company, or government had to contribute one dollar of actual wealth.

The pixels in the spreadsheets represent nothing. They serve only to continue the illusion that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. We don’t have the wealth we’ve been lead to believe we have…we are broke.

What does that have to do with construction? Everything. Cities and counties are broke. They cannot afford to borrow more money, and they cannot continue to raise taxes. States cannot afford the programs and pensions that they’ve promised, nor can they raise taxes. Companies cannot afford the pensions and benefits they have promised. They cannot raise prices either, as their customer base is already shrinking due to cost.

Families and individuals are struggling to both get out from under mountains of debt and to mesh sharply rising prices into their budgets.

The federal government spent $3.5 billion more per day than it brought in for fiscal year 2010. It is having trouble borrowing money by selling bonds to foreign entities because our current debt makes those bonds much riskier. The Federal Reserve is administering a program of quantitative easing (printing money or just adding pixel dollars) to keep up the appearance that everything is shipshape. What ship? I’ll get back to that.

Point being we are broke. There will be no excess income or wealth to support a large-scale residential construction industry in the near future. The ship, of course, is the Titanic. Imagine that we’ve already hit the iceberg. But…everything seems to be roughly the same, and the ship’s intercom is continually telling us that everything is just fine.

Remember the bailouts and the stimulus packages of hundreds of billions, even trillions, of dollars? That was the crew and the first-class passengers casually heading past you to get into the lifeboats. This current financial system will be on the bottom within a decade. And no, there is not going to be a lot of new residential construction during that decade.

We are already well into a global wealth realignment. How is wealth created? Not obtained, but created? Manufacturing is the application of labor to raw materials to make products. The exchange of those products for tangible assets creates wealth. A nation that manufactures and sells abroad is creating and accumulating wealth. The lower, middle, and upper classes of those nations, whether participating directly in manufacturing or not, benefit from that creation of wealth.

Western civilization in general, and the United States in particular, no longer creates wealth; we simply move it back and forth. Usually to the benefit of those who have the capacity to slowly, without causing concern, convert pixels into actual assets (think lifeboats).

But…the curtain is slowly falling away. The sad state of our current financial situation has become too large, and too smelly, to hide. We are broke. No real wealth means no real money and no real credit, and, therefore, no large force of construction workers will be needed. Take a deep breath and figure out what you want to do next. And yes, I am saying that as much to myself as anyone….

My guess is that it will take at least a generation to recover from this financial predicament. All our debts will have to be paid…the debts that your governments have incurred in your name will be paid by you. Believe it. We will have no choice but to live within our reduced means. The options you have today, the programs and support you have today, the retirement that you think you will have tomorrow no longer exist.

China is not going to be a superpower; they already are the superpower. The Chinese are testing a stealth fighter technologically superior to our best fighter, of which we have scant few. When they move to production, they will be able to produce as many as they think they need. We will not keep pace…we are broke.

We will lose air superiority in a wide arc around China, including the Koreas, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines within five–10 years. The discussion of whether or not we should be the world’s policeman is moot; we can’t be.

We have to pay our debts, live within our means, roll up our sleeves, and get back to turning raw materials into products with efficient labor. Government’s restrictions and regulations concerning manufacturing will begin to ease…they will have no choice. We as a nation will eventually emerge stronger and more compact. We as individuals will be greatly challenged, but we will be fine, if not finer.

There is no need for panic or despair, no matter what the news brings in the near future. Take this period of relative calm to sharpen your tools, mend your work clothes, and trim the fat out of your budget. We’ll all be back to work shortly, and no doubt working our butts off at something we’d never expect today…

Comments

  1. Excellent article, I would like to add that wealth cannot be created, it must be produced. Produced through individual labor, be it physical or mental, not through government actions.

    Carl

    • Carl, I’ll go you one better. Think about it a while and I think you’ll agree I am right. Producing weath requires exploiting a resource or as I read recently there are only 4 ways to create wealth: Fishing, farming, mining, logging.

  2. The 4th reason jobs won’t come back (in the short term) is that we have MANY illegal’s filling jobs that should be getting done by American’s.

    Our neighborhood (ironically) is still building new homes, even though the value of our existing homes is down by about 25%.

    Right now there are about 25 houses under construction. I exercise-walk a lot so I see the crews working. There is not one word of English being spoken on those job sites. Hundreds of jobs that American citizens should have but instead they are given to low wage, cash workers who come here illegally & then send 75% of their money home to Mexico or Central America.

    Our government does nothing. It’s almost like they want it to happen.

    What has happened to America?

    • Yes, there are lots of educated white Americans just chomping at the bit to get employment in the fields harvesting tomatoes, beans, peas, potatoes, etc.

      And these educated white Americans can’t get jobs because of all the “illegals,” right?

      Did I get that right?

  3. Very nice and thought out.

  4. One more 5th reason. Many people are being forced to live together again. Friends sharing rent. Young adults moving back in with Mom & Dad. Grandma being moved out of an assisted living community and back into the house to save money and help with the bills. This decreases the amount of people out there who will purchase a home and it decreases the amount of renters.

    This is both good and bad. It is terrible for our economy but it is good that people are being fiscally responsible and it is good because family is becoming important again.

  5. My brother is a superintendent for a large commercial construction company, business has been so bad that all the companies employee’s had to take a 10% cut in pay just so they could all stay employed. He has been with the same company for over 30 years and has never seen anything like this in all those years. My brother thinks this is just the start of something much bigger. I hope he is wrong.

  6. Great article, thanks. I agree with most of what your saying, except for your soft ending. “There is no need for panic or despair”. I’m not so sure about that. I see a lot of layoffs in the future. I’m 59 with a ravaged 401k and wondering what retirement holds for me. I won’t be able to afford to live in the home I’m in now if I quit working, and I can’t sell it in this market without losing money. I’d bought it hoping it would appreciate, which it did for a few years, but now, it’s worth less than I owe on it. I’ve got a tiger by the tail. i can’t afford it, i can’t sell it, I can’t downsize. If I lose my job, I’ll likely have to walk away from the house and ruin my credit.

    Then again, will credit matter in a few years? Banks don’t lend money anymore. We bailed those ba*t*rds out, but now they’re sitting on the money, and are pretending to help out those who they are foreclosing on. The government pretends to be pushing them to help the little guy, but it’s all lip service and wink-wink.

    Luckily, my wife and I are preppers. We have been preparing for several years, shortly after my last employer told me they were ‘globalizing’ my position to people in India, Romania and Mexico. We now have at least a year’s worth of food, and have managed to find an affordable plot of land away from town and out on the desert. We have water and electricity there, and hope to nurture a garden and homestead it. We’re practicing and learning now how to grow food in the desert heat.

    We will either retire to our little ranch, or bug out to it if times get bad. It will soon be paid for, and we think we can survive there until the USA crawls back to it’s feet and remembers that it is a nation built on people growing and creating things, not a playground for bankers and speculators. I hope to live long enough to see it once more in its glory.

    Never stop prepping. It WILL pay off.

    • I wonder how many people are considering abandoning their homes & heading to the country? I think about it daily even though I’m current on our mortage and we are (for now) gainfully employed.

      It is very sad. You are right, never stop prepping. We have enough for 1 1/4 years now. Will it ever be enough?!

      • We’re in the same boat here as well. Both hubby and I are gainfully employed and current on the house mortgage, but I am getting ready to cash out an old 401K to pay off our 40 acre bug-out location. Just bought an American-made iron horse that will help us dig the foundation for a house there. We dream of the day that we can move from the inner city. I just hope we are not forced to do so because TSHTF. The world is on fire and let’s hope our hair doesn’t catch.

        • I’m sad, but not surprised, to see others in the same boat. The property that we will probably have to abandon, is also current on the mortgage, but if either of us loses our job, we’ll soon be in hot water. The sad part is, the property is on the edge of Phoenix, next to dairy farms, and is 1.7 acres of beautiful land. We have a large garden, many, many fruit and nut trees on it and have a small flock of hens giving us eggs. Many preppers would kill for this location. It is a heart breaking reality that we will likely have to walk away. The property value of the place almost doubled 2 years after we bought it, but now it is valued at less than what we bought it at, and about $50k less than what we owe. We had counted on the property value increasing steadily, and being able to sell it and make enough off it to start building a house on a cheaper piece of land much farther off the beaten path. Oh well, Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

          Never Stop Prepping!

        • Question, Thrifty Puppy, what do you man “American made iron horse”? Are you talking about a tractor, or backhoe? What a coincidence, we bought a 40 acre BOL too, and hope to build our retirement home on it. I’m hoping to go Earth Sheltered, for security, temperature moderation, and ease of maintenance. We’re praying we can keep employed long enough to raise the necessary money, and hoping that the sh*t won’t hit the fan before we’ve got some shelter, otherwise our ancient Winnebago BOV will be home.

        • Richard Muszynski says:

          Greetings. better cash out that 401K as soon as possible while it still exists. many people have already found out that their 401K simply disappeared leaving them with no savings. remember the 401K was backed by the same government and financial systems that got us in this mess.

  7. Mountain lady says:

    If I had your skills, I would go through the survival books and select a pattern for building outdoor dehydrators and bee hives. Those are two items I would barter for, with silver or food, whichever you wanted. Start stockpiling wood and the other items needed, and start your own “new world business”. There are so many possibilities for someone with your skills.

  8. Very well written article. I’m going to disagree with one point. The chinese stealth fighter is not superior to our own. Recent reports say that it is several generations behind in its stealth technology. However, the point is well made that we are not advancing our own military capabilities and the chinese are. How long will it be until they truly are superior? Hopefully, long enough to get a president who cares enough to do something about it.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Plus, how much of the technology was obtained from us (the US) via espionage. There’s still a lot of that going on.

    • Jim Murphy says:

      I’ve heard rumors and they are just that”rumors”, that the next generation in military fighters will not have a human on board during flight.

    • Richard Muszynski says:

      Greetings. I assume you are aware that China is not threatening us. we are shaking the sword of war at them. if we go to war with China, who outnumber us many, many times over. a few super expensive weapons that can’t even fly in the rain are not going to save us. Napoleon once said “Victory goes to the bigger Army” our military has proved its worth against unarmed Iraq and Afghanistan. do you really think we are in any condition to threaten a nation so much bigger, more populated and better led and expect to win with a couple of multi million or billion dollar planes? not very realistic.

      • Trafalgar, a smaller, better trained, better equiped navy [British] beat the bigger stronger, combined French and Spanish fleets. This lead to Waterloo, in 1815.

  9. You also have the overhang of construction already built. Without easy credit there is not as much demand for what is in place.

    The commercial construction you see in the Carolinas is usually cost shifting from expensive locations in the U.S. to less expensive locations.

  10. templar knight says:

    Excellent article, Jim, and there is absolutely no valid reason that what you say can’t happen. But, unfortunately, we have the inmates in charge of the asylum.

    For example, this country(the US) has 800,000,000,000 barrels of oil in reserve, yet we are importing most of our oil. We are ruining our country by importing all this oil, we are giving our money to terrorist states, yet nothing is done.

    Obama has shut down drilling in the Gulf, put more and more land in Alaska and the Western United States under drilling moratoriums, and is preventing pipelines from being built that could double available production from the Bakken in No. Dakota.

    He(Obama) is trying to stop fracking, which will destroy the natural gas industry and new oil drilling, and on and on. Throw in the mix his cap and trade regulations through the EPA, and it looks to me like he is doing his best to destroy the country. If there is another explanation, I’ll sure listen to it.

    So, Jim, I don’t know. We still live in the richest country in the world, but we are rapidly throwing it all away. Obama has trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, so I don’t see how we can avoid disaster. But it is a man-made disaster, not natural, and it is being done on purpose, to destroy this country and the West. I just pray we can last till 2012, and that we can get rid of this guy, but I have no confidence that we can. The media is mostly corrupt, continues to be his biggest supporter, and he will have a billion dollars for his campaign. I have little confidence we can avoid a disaster.

    • I was telling my husband just that this morning. I am afraid that in 2012 the sheeple will re-elect this clown who is out to destroy America. With 50% of the citizens paying no taxes it’s not too far fetched.

    • Templar Knight you have my heart. I know this is not nice to say, but for the longest time I have wondered where the Arian Brotherhood is at. But all in all, the big “O” I don’t believe is in charge; someone else is telling him what to do and he does it. Look at his history and who he has been affiliated with. He is a nothing, a puppet. George Soros comes to mind when I think of the three countries his fingers have been into to destroy their economy. In his own words he says he enjoys it.

      • Soros will hit the motherload if he topples the USA. Because if we fall, the rest of the world will follow suit. He knows it too. The first 3 countries were just training for him.

  11. Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

    Jim, interesting perspective on the financial situation as seen from a self-employed carpenter. I agree that the housing industry won’t come back for a generation. Fact is, I don’t expect to live long enough to see it. My own house, which I paid cash for in 1993, is now worth less than I paid for it. So, although I have no mortgage, the property taxes keep increasing and I’m thinking that in 5 years, if this trend continues, I will have to walk away from a paid-for home due to the taxes which will render me unable to pay any other bills.

    Here’s where we disagree, Jim. I see taxes increasing in many areas of the USA. I see my own state government still thinking it can tax its way out of debt. It can’t – there isn’t enough money left in the taxpayers’ pockets to pay for all the promises made to government employees, entitlements, and illegals. Still, the state government tries to tax us into oblivion because it hasn’t the guts nor the backbone that Gov. Walker of WI has, or the courage that Gov. Christie of NJ has.

    I completely agree with Templar Knight – this country is being detroyed systematically by the current administration. Or I should say, the current administration has hastened the destruction to super-sonic speed. Obama wasn’t the first president to purposely ruin America, but he may be the last president we see. He and his cronies want to take our money and share it with the world, as if we have an unlimited supply. If the people don’t wake up and see what’s going on, this country is doomed and it will not recover – never.

    I wish I could see the rosy future you see, Jim, but I don’t. Instead, I see millions of Americans who believe they are entitled to health care, higher education, unlimited unemployment benefits, housing, guaranteed pay raises and pensions (in the case of government/union employees), and a myriad other programs that are destroying the taxpayers. The taxpayers of this country are the golden goose and our goose is being cooked.

    The only way to save America, the America that our Founding Fathers envisioned, is to change the hearts and souls of our families and friends and neighbors. How do we do that when that means they would necessarily have to work harder and expect delayed gratification? I don’t know that we can….but I won’t stop trying. There is always hope.

    May God Bless America, for we will need His help if we ever expect to survive as a nation and as individuals.

    • Lint,

      California allows you to appeal your property tax base. If values drop, you can apply & along with supporting documentation have your taxes lowered. I have done many times for friends, clients & myself on properties I own.

      One general article for you:

      http://www.ehow.com/how_6776321_lower-property-taxes-california.html

      Try not to pay one of those firms who charge you – generally they are a ripoff. You can get the supporting documentation from a local real estate agent for free and some might even help you fill out the papers. It’s worth the time to do.

      If values drop more next year, do it again.

      • Lint Picker (Northern California) says:

        Jason, let me tell you something directly, maybe then you’ll get the picture: Your bluffs and feints aren’t cutting it anymore. We’re all wise to you.

        Your past exploits, whether as “Jason” or as “Steve,” or whatever other name(s) you may have used here have forever tainted anything you say to me. I don’t care to get your advice, comments, criticisms, “jokes” or anything else you have to say.

        Furthermore, your “advice” is either blatantly obvious to everyone or the ultimate in being ludicrous. Please don’t try to impress me with your knowledge, you don’t have any.

        The best way for you to get any attention (since that seems to be what you so desperately seek) is to post your own comments and not continue to comment on the comments of others. You rarely post your own ideas, unless you do so as a vehicle for attacking or ridiculing somebody. Approximately 90% of your posts are responses to other people, not your own original opinions. You do have some opinions on the topics posted by MD and his guest’s, don’t you? I mean, opinions that don’t involve putting down somebody or making “jokes” at the expense of others. IOW, when you act like a mature adult (if you actually are a mature adult), then I would be happy to engage in discussing things with you or reading your advice. Until such time as you grow up, I’m not interested in what you have to say.

        You could try apologizing to everyone you’ve offended through the past several months, but I’m sure you’ve lost count since the number of us you’ve ridiculed, called names, insulted, and used as the punchline in your “jokes” is quite extensive.

        To be as clear as possible: BUZZ OFF.

        • Lint,

          What you think about me is none of my business – just look it up, you will save money on your property taxes. It’s fair & completely legal in fact, it is part of the California State Property Tax Code.

          Even though you do not like me, I would still organize it for you, no question. It’s fast and easy for me & my gift to you.

          For what ever it’s worth – I apologize for any ill will I may have created in your life.

          • Steve,

            You have ticked off a lot of people with your comments and sarcasm here – I hope your new helpful attitude is genuine. We will see…

            p.s. I can understand Lint’s attitude toward you based on your past comments toward him, perhaps it would be best if you did not address him in the future.

  12. GoneWithTheWind says:

    You could be right. I don’t fault what you have said. However it is a mistake to predict the future while in a terrible situation. Things change, not always for the better but things always change. There are very real indications that we and the whole world are in for some bad times. But the history of nations is that as they encounter economic and social declines that they have a series of bubbles not a drop off the cliff. Today we are in the valley between bubbles. I do expect the economy to pick up again if not soon eventually. When it does, make no mistake there will be people talking about great prosperity and making and spending lots of money. They too will be guilty of predicting the future based on where they are at that moment. Even during the depression businesses were formed and millionaires were created. In fact opportunities abound in hard times. So barring our sun becoming a nova or a massive nuclear war it is likely that the economy will turn around. When? Who knows. The trick is to be ready to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

  13. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. As far as China goes, we’ve already handed over our industry to them so getting back up off the ground will be a challenge. We’ll probably see a war with them or one within our borders if the anger levels continue to increase along with costs and reduced incomes.

  14. there is one and only one way I can see these rebounding in the short term (Meaning next 5 years) is if there was an all out war. And even then I doubt we would win it due to our production abilities have dried up. Everything would need retooling.

    compared to 1950 we produce 400% more BUT our workers make less when adjusted for living cost. Trillions of dollars went to the TOO BIG TO FAIL and we got screwed.

    Our good paying jobs sent away in order for the banksters to foreclose on homes to balance thier books after they got caught selling illegal mortgages.

    In the mean time barter and trade is the best solution the people can employ.

  15. Excellent post Jim, I too have had a career in commercial and industrial construction and work is almost nonexistent. Companies, banks and investors are apprehensive of what this current administration is trying to do. Almost like watching a dog chase his tail. Most Americans are still trying to exist as if nothing will change or bad happen. Never have I seen so many in denial. When TSHTF there will much more unprepared than prepared and the premise of our polite society will be but a snippet of memory. What we are now witnessing on the world stage is just a precursor as to what we will have it store here. I see someone trying to stay in power at all costs while the citizens will rebel. When you get to the point of not having anything to lose it gets down and dirty.

  16. You guys are a lot more educated than I am, but I wouldn’t be so quick to write off the Scots-Irish-and the English just yet. Those chingus-kooks might march better than us but check out history, we were some of the fiercest fighters ever and always against greater odds.

    • P.S. The blue face paint is waiting patiently in my makeup kit.

      • Mountain lady says:

        In mine, too. Having William Wallace in the family lineage makes for interesting thoughts. Wish I was about 30 years younger, but still willing to do my part.

  17. Jarhead Survivor says:

    Jim – You sound like an economist that actually understands what’s going on – or are at least one who’s willing to admit the truth. Great post! You need to find a way to get this message to the writers at CNN and MSNBC who are always trying to blow sunshine up everyone’s tail pipe.

  18. I can back this up, to a degree, with personal experience. In my line of work, I sometimes get monster checks. Rather than let my bank put a hold on them, I cash them at the client’s bank and deposit cash into my account.

    On several occasions, the bank asked me very kindly to see a manager who asked me very kindly to come back in the morning so they could draw more funds. Each time that has happened, I have to wait for the money truck in the morning and the whole hoopla of them getting and counting the cash from the truck before I can get my money.

    This has happened to me at three different banks. That scares me quite a bit, because it is only in the last two years that this has happened and I’ve been cashing big checks five or six times a year for a decade.

  19. Jim,

    Hate to use this metaphor but that was a very well constructed article. I disagree on a couple of points but that’s merely my opinion.

    Your closing paragraphs were excellent & I fully agree that we will morph into something better.

    I took from it all the lesson to be learned is – wise up, lean up, move forward & stop whining or get left behind in the coming new America.

    Excellent job, thank you.

    • Jason, you might see it, but I’ll be caught in the middle and end there wherein you may march on into a new world, but that new world must start with educating our kids, teache then about the constitution and the bill of rights.

      • Glock,

        Totally agree – educating the kids is paramount. I work hard at it daily, do my part & teach mine the value of hard work.

        I’ve told them the key to success is what others won’t do – have integrity & put in the extra effort – the rest will take care of itself. My 2 teenagers are honor students, have jobs and do not complain.

  20. The economic boom you speak of is not going to ease our burdens. Things may go a little smoother, but we are still riding the same ride.
    Best thing for us to do is to keep up all preps and continue to achieve a life without so many complication’s in it.

  21. …and I watched my American dream go up in smoke. I loved building cabinets. It was just perfect for me. So losing it hurts. What really hurts is I didn’t go into debt. My house was paid for. My tools paid for. But when it all went I didn’t get unemployment and my medical bills drove me to below poverty. Dirt poor. Reading the comments here about Obama is to blame seems silly. Silly! We keep voting the same idiots into office. Bush/Obama it does not matter. Both parties collectively killed the American dream. Every time you vote for these folks you just drive another nail in my country’s coffin!

    • I sympathize dennis, but what’s the solution. Right now there is a Andrew Travers ATEF Agent from Chicago, being appointed to the AFTE Directorship by Hussain Obama. He is anti-second amendment and pro anti-gun. If he gets into the position we can count on our firearms being gradually slid out of our hands despite all the positive gun laws we have. Write your senator, go to http://www.StopTravers.org and see who he is and see what’s coming our way. Without a firearm, survival will clearly be primitive.

  22. Great article… and I will post a link to it if that is ok with you? I think the sooner we realize we have to take individual action to prepare and protect our families the sooner we will organize local gardens, reliable water sources and community business… remember if a town of 3000 spends just 100 a month at their farmers market they are supporting over 100 local farmers… and research shows that .68% of every dollar spent in a community stays and is respent in the community.

  23. dread pirate roberts says:

    Another reason that the housing boom is over: Demographics. The average age is increasing. There are relatively more old people today than young people, and the old people probably own their own house, and many don’t feel like moving. Therefore, demand for new construction is down, along with demand for all the other things that go along with it – new appliances, furniture, etc.

    Not that old people never buy a new stove, but not as often as new home buyers, and let’s not even talk about depression era retirees – they won’t replace an appliance until it is worn out. This can even cross generations – children of depression era parents can be pretty tight with a dollar, too.

  24. Great article.

    The one predicament he didn’t mention is the fact that industrial civilization has been rapacious with respect to non-renewable natural resources.

    Bouncing back and returning to industrial civilization humming on all cylinders is impossible.

    We live on a finite planet. Infinite economic growth (and population growth) dependent on non-renewable resources on a finite planet simply doesn’t pencil out.

    This is not a problem, it’s a predicament. It’s not how to solve it. It’s how to adjust to it.

    • Well said. It truly is a predicament that we are in. It’s something that makes all other concerns virtually meaningless. We are heading over the cliff and most are unaware of this. It is beyond politics, religion or national pride. The survival of the human race and many forms of life are at stake.

  25. Shall we prepare for the end! I am a pessimist and a hopetimist and never optimistic about anything. I expect the worst possible then hope to hell it dosen’t happen.
    I keep trying to figure out how we older ones are going to survive. I can’t do what I did when I was 30, 40 or 50. I’m smarter (I think), but have become weaker.
    Before closing, I want to say I really appreciate this site and all of you who contribute to it. You all give me hope that as a Nation, we can get through this, hopefully with little pain.
    God bless you all and good day!

    • Glock – you need to rely on your family to help you. I plan to watch out for my parents – who are in their 70’s – as best I can.

  26. Jim, very well written. I admire someone who can write an impassioned yet clear essay on the subject without sputtering. I am fwding the article to a family of contractors who appear to still have their heads in the sand.
    And Dennis M., I’m with you, it does not matter which party is in the White House.
    Here in TX, property taxes freeze when you are 65, so we’re in the clear about getting raised. Until, of course, that boon is legislated out.

  27. Nice article. Two points I’d like to make.

    1. When you said we stopped manufacturing and just shift the wealth back and forth, you missed the fact that on each shift part of the wealth is siphoned off to pay the lazy, the uneducated, the unwilling their ‘rights’ (job, food, housing, money). We are slowly going broke due to this leeching and have been doing so for some time. The loss is accelerating now and we’re heading into the end game.

    2. Since we don’t manufacture any longer (not to the extent we did when I was growing up) and those jobs aren’t coming back, the future will belong to those who have a marketable skill or trade to sell or barter. A carpenter can always start a business doing remodeling or repairs. Don’t limit yourself to what you’ve been doing, look at what you can side-step into. Same goes for any skilled tradesman. Middle managers are a doomed work group.

    Ray

  28. Yes ya hit the nail on the head,we have been exporting jobs for some time now,a big mistake and just one part of our problem,Americans stand to overrun while we wait for our dictator to see the light, fact is he and his idiot squad do not want this country to recover ,they want this country to be a nation of islam. The work of this dictator is to create enough chaos to bring this place to its knees, setting it up for such a takeover, just look at the rest of the countries blessed with these dictators,they grabbed power under the same forced climate! We simply cannot wait and look for the light to return ,we must create the light , remove the threat immediatley before these religious barbarians are able to overrun and destroy Christian America . To start we must remove OBUMMER and continue down the line w/ his brown shirts,we cannot wait and fight each idiot move he makes ,but we need to concentrate on the central cause, Dictator wannabe OBUMMER,and the insurge of lifelong enemies, islam! Remember, a house built on a compromized foundation will not stand!

  29. Not only an excellent article but some very insightful commentary. The beauty of blogs and the internet. While I agree with the direct statement of do not panic or despair, that doesn’t change the issue of the sinking ship and us being the poor Irish b*st*rds locked in the hold. It is PAST time to get out of the hold and into our own lifeboats. The system is dead. Walk away from it. The elites want a poor starved slave class. For those who continue to play this will be their fate.

  30. This was a excellent read, thanks for sharing your thoughts and views on this, seeing the different view points from across the USA has also been very interesting, I live in canada and the area I am currently in seems to a point to be in a buffered zone in regards to employment, however everyone is feeling the effects of the raised gas prices, the higher power bills and the rising, ever rising food costs.

    I belive that the next few years will be filled with challanges and hardships for many many families, I truly hope that folks will step up to the understanding that we have alot of work ahead of us and get on with it..

  31. Probably a stupid question. Why wouldn’t someone who is self employed get unemployment if they go out of business?

    I am self employed and every time I do payroll for myself or my husband we have to pay the state unemployment insurance money. If I’ll never get it, why the heck am I paying it?!

    • i am a self employed licensed carpentry contractor who filed for unemployment a couple of years ago. in my hearing after being denied, i told the judge i was looking for employment outside of my company and was granted unemployment. after being audited by workforce services (unemployment division) i was found to be self employed and was denied benefits. i was threatened with 2 felonies of unemployment insurance fraud and settled by paying back all of my benefits with a penalty equaling the benefits i received. 10200 dollars in benefits and 10200 in penalty, equaling 20400 dollars to be paid back. i have had to cash out my ira to pay most of it back and 500 a month after that. one more payment to go. be careful who you tell you’re collecting or anything you’re doing. anyone you are doing better than will go against you. i have to pay uic payments when i cut myself a check too. don’t know where that goes, but being an s corp i pay myself as little as i can on paycheck and shareholder distributions for the rest.

  32. Stardusthill says:

    Great article. A lot of discussion and friendly debate. Makes everyone think. When we started giving away our manufacturing base and moved to a service based economy, the writing was on the wall. Can we turn it around, I don’t know. An interesting web site “stillmadeinusa.com”. This blog is to discuss and to inform. Use it as that to make your own decisions as how you proceed. I have my own ideas about how things will play out and appreciate the input I get from you. Then what direction I go is up to me. Continue the good work.

  33. SrvivlSally says:

    Very nice article, you truly covered the subject and pretty much hit the nail on the head. Your words really call attention to the truth. Upon thinking about the number of foreclosures across our nation it seems that the innumerable amount of homes sitting idle may be helping where the residential construction issue is concerned. What has occurred in our country and in other countries is reminiscent of the Illuminati, Bilderberg’s and others in that they have plans for a new world order. As the back of the one dollar bill states right up under it’s pyramid, Novus Ordo Seclorum, New Order of the Ages. Everything that is going on kind of makes me wonder if all of the countries ran out of money because they spent it without discretion like our president did and they did it because of the Elites and their NOS. I sincerely hope that anyone who has found theirself out of work and those that have been out of work for any length of time will find or create their own jobs and the world’s economies return to normal with business booming right along with it. Out of work? Look to nursing homes and become a nursing assistant. Go to vocational school if you can and become a hair dresser, mechanic or other service-oriented worker or business. Plant a field and sell it at farmer’s markets. People love potatoes, they enjoy onions, they enjoy lots of things and when the chips are down you get back up and get moving. It ain’t easy when you got no money but when you do got some you spend it wisely. Best thing anyone can do is roll with the changes-if you can’t do one thing then do something else. If at first you don’t succeed try and try again.

  34. Texas Red Neck says:

    WOW! Well thought out and presented article- – – thanks. My son-in-law and I had talked about the same thing and he started about 2 years ago. He used to be a sub-contractor. Now here is something interesting.

    When I lived in Idaho, a very good friend of mine had aceage and grew not only spuds but sugar beets and wheat on a limited basis. If it weren’t for his cow-calf operation, he most likely would’ve gone under. Anyway, every spring he would start looking for hired hands to move the irrigation wheel lines. He’d post all over town and at the unemployment office. He’d usually get a couple of guys to move the water lines and they’d last about one month. Too hard they’d say. That is all they’d do, just move irrigation lines. (Note: the lines are actually moved via a small gas engine hung on the end of the wheel line.) Then myself working 4 on and 3 off, I’d go over and help him. I always got a really good price on my alfalfa hay for my roping horses and steers. Anyway, I’d help him until he could get high school boys and even some girls, to move the water lines. Arnie paid well above scale to ensure he would have hired hands during the growing season. So here we have grown men that didn’t like the idea of a days work for a days wages! Then the high schoolers would have to quit due mostly to parents wanting a vacation. So now what to do? Can’t get people from the unemployment office, the kids were on family vacations so he’d have to find some illegals to help him get thru the season. Considering I was in law enforcement, I would have to turn away from the aspect of friends having to hire the illegals.

    What jobs? The ones that our people, Americans, thought were too hard to do. Sad but true.

    • Semtex-Jes says:

      Sad but true ? The only thing I find sad about your post is the fact that a ” So Called ” Law enforcement officer let this crap happen , in effect helped it out by looking the other way , TRUTH be told your American worker most likely didn’t want to be abused for a month or so and tossed out with the unsold produce , we as a people tend to become hip to so called ” JOBS ” or temp postions , kill yourself for no bennies no full time check and a busted back to nurse for nothing… Perhaps you should have been busting farmers who employ illegal aliens instead if busting skateboarders for smoking weed…

      Everyone who knowingly supports this type of BS are no better than the guys who pay these Aliens , DONT WANT THESE JOBS..Then these JOBS should be filled by our WELFARE class , and anyone living off the system end of story , You want welfare great have we got a gig for you to do to earn it….Ease prison sentance’s by putting them to work for our country in the fields and on the roadways, washing dishes , fighting our wars , not filing BS
      lawsuits , and watching Oprah !

      Want to fix this cracked nation ? Push for TERM limit’s across the board , serve twice your friggin outta there… The system was set up to be run by the people , and for the people , it was PUBLIC SERVICE , not public entitlement , these weren’t to be lifetime appointments people . I don’t think our fore fathers envisioned us living 90 yrs and being in office for 60 of them… Push for a FLAT TAX across the board .. End special treatment, everyone pays the same what they should … A guy can dream right !

      Do those thing’s and we enter a new era . But I wouldn’t hold your breath !

  35. Thank you for addressing those of us that took a chance and went out on our own. I busted my rear end for over 20 years building a cabinet shop. I paid cash for all of my equipment, worked long hours straight through the weekends knowing my hard work would pay off at some point. WRONG! In 2007 my client base dried up. I began selling what I had to survive. So, here I am 43 years old and completely broke. There is no more fat to trim out of the budget.

    “There is no need for panic or despair.” I beg to differ.